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(A reflection on the Gospel of Luke 4:1-13)

The Temptation of Christ, Juan de Flandes, c. early 1500s.

Today’s Gospel is Luke’s account of the temptation of Jesus. My Bible has many dates written next to this passage indicating I’ve read and meditated on it several times.  But, today, something caught my attention for the first time:  “Jesus…was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.” (Lk 4:1-2).

Jesus didn’t just wander into the desert, He didn’t decide to take a mini vacation, or simply try to get away from it all.  No, God took Jesus there.  It was God’s will.  

One’s first thought might be, “Why would God do that?” Well, I think it was to test the human side of Jesus, to lay before Him a trial so that He could prove Himself.  Would He truly trust in God as He was taught in Psalm 91:1-2, that God would be His refuge and fortress, even with the devil trying to trick Him by reciting verses 11 and 12 from the same Psalm?  We know, of course, that Jesus passed the test and the devil “departed from Him…for a time.”

We may often wonder why we are faced with evil, with hardships, failed relationships and any measure of things we didn’t choose, can’t change, and don’t like.  Sometimes God may impose inconveniences and certain sufferings to test our faith, our resolve, and our willingness to trust in Him.  But, sometimes, God allows things to happen that challenge us, make us dig deep for courage, or cause us to love in ways we are not used to loving.  Sometimes we have to give up and turn loose of things to which we are attached.  Either way, God is putting us in the desert for a while, asking us to make room so that we can replace those attachments with Him. 

We are in the season of Lent and we are trying to prove ourselves by devoting more time to prayer, to making room for Him through fasting, and being more charitable through almsgiving.  We have been led into the desert by the Spirit.  The devil will certainly try to derail our promises with various temptations.  Be strong.  Don’t cave in.

And, any other time of the year, we will also find ourselves in situations, either imposed or allowed by God, where we will be tested.  Our trust in Him will be on the line.  When we are tempted, we need to ask ourselves, “Is this the right thing to do?”  Although the devil will lie to us and encourage us to listen to our feelings and say, “Yes”, we can prove ourselves by taking a moment to listen to our heart and our intellect and let those drive our decisions.  

How will you be tested this week?  What temptations will you face?  Where has God led you such that you’ve had to trust totally in Him?

Be strong.

Be smart.

Be like Jesus.

“Heavenly Father, help me to resist the lies and temptations of the devil by being more grateful for all the many graces and blessings You’ve laid before me.  Help me to remember all the tough times You have been there for me and how my trust in You pulled me through.  Amen.”

(Facing Temptations was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)

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